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Deep Cut Made in Redwood Used in Long Protest

November 28, 2000|From Associated Press

STAFFORD, Calif. — Someone apparently has taken a chain saw to Luna, the redwood environmentalist Julia "Butterfly" Hill sat in for two years. Activists fear that the thousand-year-old tree was mortally wounded.

Hill came down from the tree in December after Luna's owners, Pacific Lumber, agreed to spare the tree along with a buffer zone.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, one of her supporters visiting the tree, in timberland about 250 miles north of San Francisco, reportedly found a critical cut made by a chain saw. Pictures posted on a Web site,, show a thin red scar running across the base of a redwood.

The tree, which is about 15 feet across and more than 18 stories high, is still standing but it is not clear if it will survive. A statement from Hill's organization, Circle of Life Foundation, said the cut was deep and precise and made the tree vulnerable to a windstorm.

An investigation by Humboldt County sheriff's deputies revealed that a chain saw was used to cut about 32 inches around the tree and about one-quarter of the way through the trunk.

Hill described the attack as a personal blow.

"I feel this vicious attack on Luna as surely as if the chain saw was going through me. Words cannot express the deep sorrow that I am experiencing, but I am as committed as ever to do everything in my power to protect Luna and the remaining ancient forests," she said.

A spokeswoman for Pacific Lumber did not return a telephone call from the Associated Press.

Hill climbed Luna on Dec. 10, 1997, for what she thought would be at most a three-week sit. She stayed up for two years, surviving howling winter storms as her quest drew worldwide attention.

She descended on Dec. 18, 1999, stepping into a whirlwind of activity as she gave interviews, promoted her book, made appearances and fended off criticism from some in the environmental movement that she was more committed to herself than to the cause.

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